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Once you’ve decided to launch a blog – whether for personal or business purposes – one of the first decisions you have to make involves your domain name selection.
This is the most pertinent branding mechanism attached to your blog and you can’t afford to mess up. You need to select a name that you can confidently stand behind for years to come.
Determine if you want to establish a strong brand name or just your blog
People blog for different reasons. Some just want to express their thoughts and don’t really care about appearing on the search results or monetizing from it. Most people, on the other hand, want to make money from their blogs.
If you’re the latter, consider this: do you want to build your personal brand or create a community blog? This question is important in choosing your blog name and url.
If you want to establish your personal brand and be considered an authority in your niche, then use your name as the blog’s URL. This is advantageous because it’s easy to reserve the domain and people can easily search for your blog.
On the other hand, if you want to create a blog that fosters community, like this blog, then follow these 3 easy steps:
Determine your niche (is it blogging, gardening, web design, or wellness?)
Find relevant keywords that you can easily rank for (I suggest you read our Guide to Keyword Research)
Find domains that contain the keywords you’ve selected
Think about what the purpose of your blog is, and then think bigger. If you are building your blog for business purposes, to make money, go broad.
Key Takeaway: As you can see, the type of blog you want to build heavily impacts what you should name your blog. Think about intent before coming up with a name.
The Five Keys to Naming a Blog Name
You’re likely going to be stuck with your blog’s domain name for the remainder of the blog’s life. This isn’t meant to intimidate you, but is intended to show you just how big of a commitment you’re making.
With that being said, here are a few things you absolutely must consider.
1. Make it Simple
Your blog name needs to be simple. This means short, easy to spell, effortless to type, and pleasing to the eye. This latter point is especially important.
Remember that domain names run together without any spaces. While you may think your domain says one thing, others who aren’t familiar with your blog may think it says something else.
Think through minor details like this and you’ll save yourself some embarrassment.
2. Don’t Limit Yourself
One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make is choosing a blog name that limits their reach. In other words, they get too selective and end up with a name that allows for very little pivoting or flexibility in the future.
An example of a limiting domain name would be something like, “DallasWeatherNews.com.”
Sure, your initial idea may be to cover the weather in Dallas, but what happens in six months when you want to expand to Houston? And then what happens in another year when you want to cover the entire state of Texas?
Instead, a better name would be something like, “YourWeatherNews.com”.
3. Do You Want to Sell Your Site?
When you are first starting out with your blog, perhaps the furthest thought from your mind is the possibility of selling your blog. However, this is something that you will want to think about when selecting your domain name.
For this reason, having the domain name for your blog as your real name is that you should then never try and build your blog into a business that you might want to sell one day.
If you have even the slightest inclination that you will want to grow out your blog into a sell-able business, stay away from using your personal name.
4. Think About Domain Extensions
There are tons of different domain extensions. While .com is by far the most common, you can always venture in other directions if you can’t find a domain name that suits your blog. Get creative and see what works for you.
More on domain name extensions and how the extension you choose impacts SEO in the next section.
5. Keep it Legal
Your blog may seem like a casual and innocent thing, but anytime there’s money changing hands, there are also legal implications. Do your research to make sure you’re aware of any legal implications attached to the name – such as trademarks.
“I know of a couple of instances where bloggers were forced into making changes months into new blogs because of legal threats,” expert Darren Rowse says. “Whether these laws vary from country to country I’m unsure – but it’s worth considering if you’re picking a domain that might clash in this way.”
Key Takeaway: Don’t rush the process of naming your blog. If you do, and end up wanting to change your name later, you will run into a host of branding and technical issues. Carefully consider the name of your blog using the criteria above before committing to one.
Blog Naming Exercise
I’ve started and built over 50 blogs in the last few years, and that has required me to come up with a system to generate the best blog names.
Your business or blog name is the first thing anyone will notice about your website. You will use a name to create a logo, promote your blog, share links on social media, send emails, manage a brand, etc.
So how do you come up with cool, creative blog names? Follow this simple process to get started, but feel free to brainstorm your own blog name ideas to differentiate yourself from other bloggers using similar domains.
Once you figure out the name of your blog, the next step is to register the domain name for the blog.
Selecting a Great Domain Name for Your Blog
A domain, as you may already know, is a set of characters that maps a website to a particular Internet address. The domain for Google is Google.com. The domain for the New York Times is NYTimes.com.
Just like a great name is important for your blog, having a great domain name is also very important for any website or blog, but it is not completely necessary for success. There are several websites out there that are very successful, even with less than perfect domain names.
On the flip side, there are countless websites with fantastic domains that are anything but successful. A domain name is only one part of the equation, but it can be a very important part.
Blog name and blog URL are two different things
Your blog’s name should be the same as your URL. This is beneficial in 2 ways:
Many new bloggers make the mistake of having a different name from the URL. That’s fine because it’s always the blogger’s choice. But to get indexed quickly and enjoy a good ranking at the search engines, it’s better to have the same blog name and URL.
This may seem like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised by how many people use separate names.
“It’s confusing to have a blog named one thing, but a domain or URL be something completely different,” as this writing guide reports. “The big idea behind choosing a domain name is this: Choose a domain name that is the same as your blog name.”
This simplifies things for both you and your audience. You don’t have to deal with two names in branding and advertising, while your audience doesn’t have to remember two different names when trying to find your blog.
Keep It Simple And Descriptive
A great domain name is something that describes your blog without having to go into much explanation. If you had dictionary.com as your domain name, for example, it would be pretty obvious that your blog was based on the concept of a dictionary. Keep this concept in mind when choosing your domain name.
This doesn’t mean that you need to necessarily stick with real words that someone could find in a dictionary, but it helps when the name is as descriptive as possible. Groupon, for instance, is a portmanteau of group and coupon. Engadget, as an another exmaple, has the word “gadget” in it. These relate to the core subject matter on both sites, even though both domains by themselves are not real words.
Finding the right domain name for your business-based blog is just as important, if not more important, than your personal blog. The way you select your domain name for your blog can have a dramatic effect on your search engine rankings. It should be related to your topic and it is better if it is shorter.
If you stick to domains that are no more than three words, ideally with no numbers or dashes, you lend yourself to the greatest possibility at success.
For search engine optimization purposes, the more generic (but targeted) domain name is best. BloggingTips.com, for example, ranks first for the search term “blogging tips.”
Choosing the Domain Extension
You have a lot of different choices when it comes to creating a domain name for your blog. You can get varations of .com, .net and .org domains, as well as domain extensions (also known as TLDs or top-level domains) that are based on your country or specific type of business. Canadian sites, for example, can end in a .ca extension.
While it is perfectly possible to include dashes and numbers in your domain name, these are usually less desirable. You will also likely want to stick to the main .com, .net or .org models whenever possible, as other domain extensions can be less than optimal for a myriad of reasons. Unless your site is country-specific, you may not want a country-specific TLD.
While a .com extension is ideal, domain names don’t necessarily have to end in .com. Again, a site that’s optimized well will rank high in search engines, even if it ends in a .info, .biz or any other kind of “dot”.
Remember, search engines spider content. If you have relevant content on your site that incorporates well-researched, popular keyword phrases as it relates to your niche, your blog/website will get good search engine ranking – no matter what its named, or what dot it ends in.
Key Takeaway: Similar to how you select the name of your blog, also think carefully about the domain name/url that you want to use. Just like the blog name, the blog url should be easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to speak. It should sound like a brandable name, not a 13 year old’s email address.
Where Can I Register Domain Names?
I currenttly purchase most of my domain names through either Bluehost or NameCheap.com. You can register your domain name through any of the domain registration companies, but be careful of ones like GoDaddy who will nickel and dime you.
Alternatively, many web hosting providers also offer domain registration as one of their services. An example of this is Bluehost, who throws in a free one year domain registration when you sign up for a shared hosting account.
Serious bloggers need to claim their own piece of web real estate. That means buying a domain. Don’t just settle for a WordPress- or Blogger-hosted blogs. They may be free but they’ll have ownership, which means the control is theirs.
How Much Will a Domain Name Cost
Just like you can register a domain name from different locations, you can pay different prices for your domain names as well. On average, a new domain name will cost around $10-$20 per year. Some registrar companies can charge upwards of $35 per year, while some hosting provides will actually provide users with a domain as long as the customer continues to host through their service.
To learn more about domain registration and pricing, it’s always a good idea to look at the top registrars online. Providers like 1&1 give the chance to check if your desired name is available for your domain, then later register if the site is free.
What about you? Does your blog have the same name and URL? How’s it working for you? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.